Introduction to Love Languages

Written by Beth Scholes

Love! The word itself can evoke many different emotions in people, everything from ecstasy to very real pain. How can one word be so different?  We will be looking at the “in love” feeling that couples experience that ushers them to the wedding alter; that blissful, exciting emotional obsession. 

For so many people this feeling starts to dissipate sometime after the honeymoon is over and they are faced with real life marriage and unmet expectations.  This process takes about two years on average; then comes a time to focus on lasting love.  This is a normal cycle, but many are taken aback by the effects when it hits home and is a personal experience.  Welcome to the real world of marriage! Conflict, mis-communication, and hurt are part of marriage- even a good marriage.  This is when lasting love needs to become the focus. There is hope and help no matter where you are at in your marriage.

Lasting love means making choices based on the best interests of the other person; it’s not feelings based but instead desires the other person to grow and develop into the best they can be.  Feelings come and go, but choice and commitment is the foundation of lasting love.

Join with us for this study based on the book, Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  This study is the introduction. We will talk about questions like:  what happened? Why do we need a love language? Each of the five languages will have it’s own study as well, so you can practice what you learn and have a more fulfilling marriage as a result.  Learn how to communicate emotional love to each other for a lifetime.

Next in the Series: Words of Affirmation

1. What is the difference between being in-love and lasting love? More thoughts...
Being in love is a euphoric experience that is based on an emotional obsession. It feels good. Spending time together when “in love” is a heavenly experience that eliminates reality and you cannot see the flaws of the other person. This “in love” feeling leads those involved to believe that it will last forever and “what happens to others will not happen to us.” The focus of the “in love” experience does not focus on the growth and development of the other person. It focuses on the feeling of love and self.
2. Did you experience this “in love” feeling and how long did it last for you? More thoughts...
The average time for that feeling is about two years. Most, couples descend from the heavenly realm and realize that reality is a little different from what they had expected. You now recognize that your loved one does have some personality warts that you can plainly see and even does some things that irritate you. Hurt, anger, harsh words and criticism are no longer little things to overlook, but can become huge mountains that seem insurmountable. This is the real world of marriage; in this world it is common for lovers to become enemies and for marriage to become a battlefield. Hang in there, there is hope and help, let’s keep going as we look at the reality and how to not just survive, but thrive.
3. Did you have some unrealistic expectations regarding how marriage would be? List examples or explain here. More thoughts...
What do realistic expectations look like? According to Dr. Chapman, after the “in love” experience has run its course, a sense of self comes forward and we assert ourselves. Each of you has different desires, he wants sex, and she is too tired. She wants to spend time with family and he is tired of her family. Little by little the intimacy evaporates and the individual desires, emotions, thoughts and behavior patterns come forward. They are two individuals whose minds and emotions have not yet molded together. Be careful this can be a time of difficulty that causes couples to fall out of love and leads to separation emotionally and/or physically.
4. Is falling “in love” really love? Is there more to love than the feeling? More thoughts...
There are three reasons that falling “in love” is different from lasting love. Falling in love is not an act of the will, no matter how much you may want it to happen, you cannot make it happen. Second, falling “in love” is effortless, things done during the “in love” stage require little discipline or conscious effort. We do crazy things and are sometimes out of control, when we are “in love”. Third, the person “in love” is not focused on the best interest of the other person. Personal growth is set aside because “we have arrived” at this emotional bliss! Neither person has to grow because you are both perfect. Such is the illusion of the “in love” feelings.
5. Define lasting love? Give some examples in your own marriage. More thoughts...
Lasting love is emotional in nature, but not obsessive. It unites reason and emotion. It involves an act of the will and requires discipline and recognizes the need for personal growth. Our most basic emotional need is not to fall “in love”, but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. People need to be loved by someone who chooses to love them and sees in them something worth loving. Lasting love is intentional in nature.
6. How will this knowledge of the “in love” experience help your marriage? More thoughts...
According to Dr. Chapman, there are three basic options when faced with marital disillusionment. Some resign themselves to a miserable marriage, others jump ship and try again, but find themselves in the same cycle. The third option, is to recognize the “in love” experience for what it is, a temporary high, and pursue “lasting love” with your spouse. Lasting love is emotional, but not obsessive. It is a love that unites reason and emotion. It requires discipline and choices, and personal growth. It provides the basic need that everyone has to be loved by someone who chooses to love them, who sees in them something worth loving. This kind of love requires effort and discipline. Satisfaction is linked to the effort extended. Lasting love has the best interest of the other person at heart. The Bible has a passage many call The Love Chapter: 1Cor. 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails. This chapter sets up the perfect standard of true lasting love. Although we cannot achieve this perfectly it certainly outlines a great example of how to love others, starting with your spouse. Take note of the discipline and choice required with each of the statements.
7. Take a moment and pick out two or three of the above words from the list in the love chapter that you would like to focus on with your spouse. More thoughts...
Lasting love is intentional. Choosing an area to work at loving your spouse is intentional and therefore an act of lasting love. For example: being kind in word and deed, doing things which you know your spouse will appreciate. Start with a time frame, perhaps a week, and do something kind everyday for your spouse. Or if you keep throwing the past in your spouses’ face purposely, try not to bring up past mistakes for one week, and if you slip up apologize right away for keeping a record of wrongs. This can seem like a small thing, but can make a difference over time. Also it gives you a starting point if you feel overwhelmed by the “whole” picture. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is a great way to take a first bite.
8. Have you heard the term “emotional love tank”? Describe what this means for you and your marriage. More thoughts...
Many counselors talk about an emotional love tank; it works like a gas tank. Over time and usage your tank is drained and you need regular intervals of filling it up or you will run dry. The key to the emotional love tank is that your spouse is the one who makes withdrawals and deposits for you. You do that for each other. For example, yelling and calling your spouse a name is a huge withdrawal. Kindness, respect, and loving acts, are ways to make a deposit. The Bible speaks on this topic in Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Quite simply lasting love comes down to choice. One great way to deposit in your spouses’ tank is to learn the unique emotional love language of each other and speak to that person in a way they will understand. Some couples try to speak love to each other in different languages- one speaks French and the other speaks Mandarin. This can cause so much frustration as you try to understand one another. Invest the time to learn what language your spouse needs to hear and practice their love language. The payoff will be very rewarding in your relationship.
9. Do you have any additional thoughts or comments on this study? Please feel free to ask any questions you may have.
10. Do you have any prayer requests? Prayer is a great source of help from a loving, caring God and His son Jesus. We’d be happy to pray with you and for you. More thoughts...
Millions of people around the world turn to prayer and the Bible as a source of help when dealing with difficult situations. Both offer comfort and the realization that you are not alone in this - there is hope and help. Remember, God is the ultimate source of help and He loves you just as you are. Philipians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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